This year, head coach Hayward has named a squad with plenty of fresh faces. Just five of those who start against Italy in Colwyn Bay this evening have previous experience at this level with the others involved in the match day squad set to make their Under 20 bow.
Skipper Hughes is one of those who featured in last year's campaign and believes the new faces in the side could make for an entertaining campaign.
"I think it's a really exciting mix we've got with some older and more experienced players and a great new group coming through," he said.
"We can't wait to get out there and get the tournament underway on Friday night."
Last year's Six Nations saw Wales win their first four encounters before a 15-28 loss to England in the tournament decider. When they met the Azzurri 12 months ago, Wales ground out a 10-25 victory at a mud-soaked Stadio Rocchi, Viterbo.
For this evening's encounter, there are new faces across the board with RGC 1404 duo Harri Evans and Afon Bagshaw set for their debuts on their home ground. They are joined in the back three by Dafydd Howells, who already has full international experience with Wales after touring Japan last summer.
In the pack, Dragons lock Scott Andrews has been brought into the squad following an injury to Joshua Helps and will start on the bench, while the experience of Nicky Thomas and Elliot Dee in the front row will no doubt be called upon against the Italian pack.
Hughes added: "To be honest we don't know that much about Italy at this stage as they haven't played yet. We're expecting a tough contest, it's going to be very physical but what's very important for us is to concentrate on our own performance.
"Hopefully we will get a good result at home to start with and get us off to a good start in the Six Nations. Obviously the home games in north Wales give us fantastic support. I think I can speak on behalf of the whole squad that we're really excited go up there and put a good performance in."
Tickets for tonight's game are available until kick-off from Colwyn Leisure Centre from £5 for Under 16s and from £10 for adults.